When I first attempted to start a business back in the summer of 2017, I did it all wrong. I opened up my Etsy shop and just threw stuff up. I wanted to get into the stationery world and design wedding invitations at the time. I designed a couple templates and just listed them on Etsy hoping for a sale. I was too afraid of failing already that I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t start an instagram, or a separate social media, I didn’t post about it anywhere.
When September 2017 rolled around, Tayne and I got engaged! It was such a busy and exciting time that I put the Etsy thing on the back burner. After all, I didn’t even sell anything. When we started Tayne and Ashley together in February 2019, it sprouted from wanting to make cool things with vinyl and laser cutting. Thing cake toppers, vinyl on mugs, key chains. We started an instagram and started putting ourselves out there. We joined The Rising Tide society and did the follow Friday every single week. We went out to craft shows and talked to other vendors. It’s scary to start something that you have no idea where it’s going to go or if it will even succeed. The most important step is the first.
When I first started that wedding stationery Etsy, I was trying to get clients to build a portfolio the wrong way. I posted a “wanted” sign on a Facebook market place saying that I would design your invitation for free as long as you got it printed through me. Little did I know… Those really weren’t my ideal clients. I got people messaging from all walks of life and they really weren’t my cup of tea. They also didn’t see or know the value of what I was offering, which is my fault. Free and cheap usually = major PITA (paint in the ass) clients. They simply don’t value your time and worth and will run you to bone. The one and only design concept that I followed through with to the end, last minute decided that she had a friend that was just going to print her invitation for her. Because I had no contract, I really had no choice.
After that incident, and since starting Tayne and Ashley, we have been approached several times to participate in “Styled Shoots”. A Styled Shoot is essentially a mock wedding where a group of industry vendors come together to provide their services to bring a vision to life. That vision is then photographed and submitted for publishing (or so we hope). We did a couple of styled shoots.
There are a few things to consider before participating in Styled Shoots. Do you have enough time to carry out your best work? Does the look and feel represent/fit your brand? Does the photographer’s style fit your aesthetics? You want to make sure you check all these boxes before you commit to anything. After all, you want to make it your while and be able to use the photos of your work for social media, your website and other promotional endeavours.
When we first started, we literally offered and said “yes” to everything under the sun. While this might be ok when you are first starting out to see what works and what doesn’t, you should really narrow down those offerings and try to specialize in a couple of things rather than doing everything and the kitchen sink.
When you narrow down your services and offerings, it’s easier for your ideal client to find you and to understand what it is you offer. You also begin to specialize in a couple things and speed up your time for production. If you are always taking on new things, things you’ve never done before, there can be a learning curve, trial and error, and sometimes your client won’t be happy with the end result.
You don’t need to be and do everything. Pick a couple and stick to it.
This one goes back to the first tip of putting yourself out there but seriously, you need to network. My biggest thing is always having a small handful of business cards on you when your out and about. Talk to people in the wild, tell them what you do, give them a business card, connect with them on social media. You’d be surprised at how many connections you can make in the least obvious places.
I attended a bullet journal workshop and happened to meet an editor of a well known wedding magazine who was also doing the workshop. We connected after the workshop and started chatting, I told her about how I interned at WedLuxe and told her about what I did. We exchanged cards and followed each other on insta. A few months later, she reached out via email and asked us to be part of the Spring 2019 issue with some clear acrylic place cards. Since then we’ve actually been hired from a couple couples who saw our work in print.
My point is, you never know who you’ll meet! Be prepared and network!
This tip was huge and so so important! You need to stay organized and on top of things! Whether your running an Etsy shop and using their platform, or using Google Calendar, Drive and Gmail, or a client management app like Honey Book – it’s so important to stay on top of things and to have your stuff all in one place.
We used Etsy when we first started. It was great at first but not ideal for client back and forth. We switched over to Squarespace e-commerce and email. Email got really overwhelming and we were getting emails, DMs on instagram and facebook and everything was just all over the place.
Enter HoneyBook. Wowza guys, this is a total game changer. We started using HoneyBook in January 2019 (new year, new start). We are able to invoice through there, send client proofs, talk back and forth just like we would email (butttt you actually get to see when then they’ve seen it!), you can add tasks, you have your contract you can customize per project and have them sign, syncs with your google calendar, clients can pay you and even tip you through there, you can create an intake form and embed it to your website. When people inquire through that form, HoneyBook creates a new “job” for you. Ughhh the list goes on and on. It’s been an incredible tool.
We signed up through a 50% off referral code (*disclaimer this is an affiliate link but I wouldn’t be sharing if I didn’t LOVE it. – if you want to try out HoneyBook, they have a free trial, and if you want to sign up, I have a 50% off referral for you!)
We hope you enjoyed these 5 tips today! What are some of the things you’ve learned since starting a business?? Share with us in the comments below!
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